The Latest: UN chief says Arabs must heal divisions

The Latest on the Arab summit being held in Jordan (all times local):

12:20 p.m.

The U.N. secretary-general has warned Arab leaders that their internal divisions have opened the door to foreign intervention and have helped breed sectarianism and terrorism.

Antonio Guterres told an Arab summit Wednesday that while fighting terrorism is essential, “any success will prove ephemeral” without a political solution to Syria’s 6-year-old civil war that allows Syrians to decide their own fate.

He said efforts to end conflicts in Syria, Yemen and Libya must “not distract us from seeking to heal the longest open wound in the region, the plight of the Palestinian people.”

Guterres said setting up a Palestinian state alongside Israel is the only solution to the conflict. He says Israeli settlements on war-won land are illegal, and called on Israel to halt construction.


12:15 p.m.

Jordan’s king has told the opening session of an Arab summit that there can be no peace or stability in the region without setting up a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

King Abdullah II, who is hosting Wednesday’s gathering of 21 Arab leaders, said the Palestinian quest for statehood remains the central issue in the Middle East.

Jordan has a large Palestinian population and also serves as custodian of a major Muslim-run shrine in Jerusalem that is also Judaism’s holiest site.

The Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount, has been a scene of frequent Israeli-Palestinian tensions, including clashes. Palestinians fear Israel wants to divide it, a charge Israel denies.

Jordan’s monarch says “we will continue to fight any attempts to change the status quo” at the site.


10:15 a.m.

Arab leaders are gathering for an annual summit where the call for Palestinian statehood is to take center stage.

The summit on Wednesday is expected to endorse key Palestinian positions, signaling to President Donald Trump ahead of White House meetings with the leaders of Egypt and Jordan that a deal on Palestinian statehood must precede any Israeli-Arab normalization.

The Palestinian issue also serves as a showcase for Arab unity in a fractured region, where leaders often find themselves on opposite sides of long-running conflicts.

From their venue on the shores of Jordan’s Dead Sea, leaders from 21 Arab countries have a view of the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

President Bashar Assad is absent. He hasn’t been invited since Syria’s suspension from the Arab League following the 2011 uprising.

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